In the shadows of tall buildings
Of fallen angels on the ceilings
Oily feathers in bronze and concrete
Faded colors, pieces left incomplete
The line moves slowly past the electric fence
Across the borders between continents

In the cathedrals of New York and Rome
There is a feeling that you should just go home
And spend a lifetime finding out just where that is

In the shadows of tall buildings
The architecture is slowly peeling
Marble statues and glass dividers
Someone is watching all of the outsiders
The line moves slowly through the numbered gate
Past the mosaic of the head of state


In the shadows of tall buildings
Of open arches endlessly kneeling
Sonic landscapes echoing vistas
Someone is listening from a safe distance
The line moves slowly into a fading light
A final moment in the dead of night


Lyrics submitted by fadingxthexkisses

Cathedrals song meanings
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  • +2
    General CommentMartha, I don't think that sounds stupid at all. It's one of the impressions I've always got from it too - nothing really coherent, but it always makes me want to write some sort of dystopian post-apocalyptic fic based on it.
    The lines about electric fences and the mosaic of the head of state and "someone is watching all of the outsiders" kind of add to that - it gives this sort of idea of some sort of [maybe collapsing] dictatorship.
    Adding in the fact that it's nominally at least about cathedrals, that could be how he feels religion is, but maybe not...

    It does feel like it's about rebuilding/trying to find a life in a world where you don't know where you belong. That's the basic idea I get strongly from it, anything more is speculation.
    ametatsuon September 27, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentCathedrals is one of the most beautiful and inspirational songs I have ever heard. I first listened to the song alone in a lab. Yes, a lab. And I believe this song was directed to people like me who are stuck in a hum-drum existence and often don't see the true beauty that exists in our own world, our own lives.
    I have lived in New York for a little over a year now, and it is quite amazing to see incredibly beautiful cathedrals like the St. Patrick's Cathedral or the Cathedral of St. John the Divine intermixed between tall skyscrapers and dirty streets.
    I have often sat in these two cathedrals, listening to "Cathedrals" and shedding tears. I not only marvel at the incredible beauty of the buildings, but I also think about where my place is in this world, where my home truly lies.
    Ironically, the music of this song is simple, though its meaning is poignant and very different for all who listen to it. This will always be one of my favorite songs.
    amateurboyon September 24, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General Commentok, i know i sound likea perv, but when i listen to this song, its like, this song i could see myself making love to this song, i mean i loooooove this song and yes it is very soothing, but for some reason everytime i lsiten to it, i think of a couple making love, not even having sex, caseu its jsut so beautiful that its making love. i lvoe it!!!!!!!!
    jennasmybabyon November 20, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI have moved around the world my entire life and this song truly sums up the feeling of searching. When you are in any of the Cathedrals of the world you get the same feeling, regardless of your faith, you know that there is something out there bigger than you are. Not necessarily God or the infinite Universe, but even with in humanity there is something beyond your understanding and you can spend your life finding it. This is by far one of the greatest songs ever written.
    Globalnomadon March 31, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Commentokay maybe this sounds stupid...but whenever i hear this song i think about like the world how it would be after a huge, all that's left is a rubble, and people don;t know what to do so they go to God in the cathedrals, and they don't really find him they just try to go home, but everything is gone so they don't know where there home is anymore. i think this song is about rebuilding your life.
    martha823on August 01, 2007   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationNot sure how someone can listen to this song and come away feeling positively inspired... the song exudes beautiful hopelessness. The lyrics speak clearly of a Orwellian dystopia where freedom of movement is restricted ("...the electric fence/across the borders between continents"), clandestine surveillance is commonplace ("someone is listening from a safe distance") and a cult of personality surrounding a totalitarian leader is pervasive ("...past the mosaic of the head of state"). The chorus suggests the final abandonment of faith among the religious, which has historically been the last refuge of hope for the truly hopeless. The last lines before the final chorus drive the point home; the once-peaceful world within this song is in its death throes, humanity's evil elements have won out, and any hope of rebuilding is long gone. This tenor is particularly hammered home in Joan Osborne's cover on her 2008 album "Little Wild One." Both the original and that cover are hauntingly beautiful, and if you can listen to it and find inspiration, more power to you. As for me, if I were on Zoloft, I'd definitely take this track off of my iPod.
    jbull217on September 28, 2011   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationThis is my first interpretation of a song on here, and I feel so moved by this when I hear it that my emotions flow and my thoughts are scattered. But I will give it my best shot.
    I see this song as lamenting the way that various governments, dictators, and groups have exploited religion. The references to electric fences, mosaic of the head of state, etc, remind me of the holocaust, and people being herded to whatever their ultimate destination may be just because of their religion. These great cathedrals that were once built to honor some divine power, are now symbolic of corruption, death. The individual detail that at one point was painstakingly created- the angels on the ceiling, the stone arches- now just parts of a building that is nothing more than a commodity to be used and abused however it may be convenient.
    Instant Karmaon October 25, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General Commentanybody know the true meaning behind these lyrics?
    this is a great song, one of my favorite ever =]
    eknickon January 27, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti'm not sure of the true meaning of this song, but i know it's completely beautiful, and i love the song and the band. it seems like such a sad little song, but i think it has some hope there as well.
    BlueAndStarryon April 27, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is one of the most soothing songs I've ever listened to. I love the part that says "There is a feeling that you should jsut go home and spend a lifetime finding out just where that is" it's just cool. Good song...
    Girl in Greenon June 16, 2002   Link

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